Top tips for building a culture of innovation in events businesses

5 minutes

Top tips for driving innovation in the events industry and beyond

How can the events industry innovate in a world that is more complex than ever? Bestselling author and keynote speaker Cris Beswick shares his top tips around innovation. You can also find a video of Cris speaking on this topic below. 

Accept an uncertain environment

The world we now operate in is more complex and less predictable. Customers are demanding innovation so you need to be ready to rise to the challenge.

Build resilience and capabilities

We can’t control events like pandemics, but we can control how we respond to them. Building resiliency and capabilities within our organizations is key.

Solve wicked problems

The ‘wicked problems’ we’re facing today create ‘wicked opportunities’. In these opportunities, innovation thrives. Leaders must build organizational capabilities to solve wicked problems.

Shift your mindset

Our mindsets are crucial to innovation – a positive, future focused mindset is key. We can look at the world through the positive VUCA acronym: Visionary, Unbounded, Curious and Authentic.

Education session at IMEX

Define your purpose

Organizations should be both ambitious with their strategy and purpose driven; leaders today need to take a different approach by adopting a growth mindset.

Embrace creativity

Cognitive flexibility helps us be more creative, resilient and teaches us to combat negativity. Wicked problems require wicked creativity and that’s where innovation lives. 

Encourage curiosity

When we combine purpose and creativity, we get curiosity. The more we explore, the more we experiment, and that’s where we find beautiful solutions to wicked problems.

Create the right environment

Innovation doesn’t happen in the boardroom when you schedule a meeting. Time and physical space are critical for fostering innovation.

Collaborate and build networks

We won’t be able to solve wicked problems on our own. We need to join forces with start-ups, entrepreneurs and build community networks. 

Love what you do

Innovation and creativity are a “willing contribution” from a person to a business that can’t be forced. Our people need to love what we do as a business, why we do it and how we do it.

Take ownership

Leaders get the innovation they deserve: if they say they want it but don’t provide the right environment for it, it won’t happen.

Watch now: Building a culture of innovation

“If you want to shape the future, Strategy, Leadership and Culture need to eat breakfast together!”

Insights from the audience Q&A

What are your techniques to avoid distractions and negativity?

Make time to remove yourself from distractions and negativity. Personal time and personal headspace are crucial to our health and wellbeing. It’s easier to remove yourself than hope distractions will go away. Use the positive VUCA (see pt.4 above) to look at the world.

How can we look for true and sustainable innovation when we are just trying to make ends meet?

There are many levels of innovation – most organizations are doing continuous improvement/ incremental innovation. It doesn’t need to be disruptive and radical; the reality is most organizations don’t have the mindset and skills to do that. If you want to start to shift the needle on innovation start to shift it up the scale from continuous improvement.

Is it your sense that businesses and business leaders are the new changemakers in the world, even around social issues, and not governments?

Yes, but there’s an element of collaboration. Government policy change can be powerful i.e. the automotive industry shifting to zero emission vehicles so quickly electric. There’s a role that government plays but businesses and the purpose driven, planet conscious leaders are the ones that will shape the future for us.

Speaker at Policy Forum

How can we get our customers to collaborate on our wicked solutions?

Organizations are collaborating with customers to build solutions. Start to think about building relationships with customers earlier before problems arise. Start working with customers right at the beginning to ‘co-unearth’ potential problems that you then ask them to co-create solutions with you for.

How do you communicate purpose in an organization?

Re-visit your purpose in the context of the world we are living and operating in today. Don’t re-visit it in isolation. If you co-create it with the business widely enough then you are part way down the communication challenge to presenting it to the company. Re-visit your purpose to make sure its apt for the values society lives and breathes by and the world we’re operating in today.

How can you make the case for innovation as a tactic for business rather than a visionary tale?

Be clear about what innovation means to your organization. For Cris it’s about solving wicked problems and having the ability to shape a better world in the future. Every organization should want to make and shape a better world!

Cris Beswick is a serial entrepreneur turned strategic advisor, bestselling author and keynote speaker, and is recognized globally as a thought leader on innovation strategy, leadership and culture. He is the co-author of the bestselling book ‘Building a Culture of Innovation’.

Looking for more inspiration? Join us at IMEX and enjoy 150+ professional education sessions!

About the author

Ellie looks after our content marketing, researching trends and industry insights and working closely with our Knowledge and Events team.

Ellie Scott

Senior Content Manager